Colorado’s two U.S. senators said Wednesday they are in favor of a $2 trillion bill to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic
The White House and the U.S. Senate reached agreement on the massive spending bill early Wednesday.
The bill was held up for almost a week as senators disagreed over the length of expanded unemployment insurance, restrictions on pay for executives and a requirement that corporations that accept taxpayer assistance keep workers on payroll during the lockdowns.
Democrats like Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., voted against advancing the original bill because it did not include enough funding for hospitals for places that desperately need it to combat the virus, like rural Colorado. The original bill also did not have accountability measures in place to make sure President Donald Trump’s administration directed disaster relief funds to where they were needed most.
“I think the American people will assess the progress that’s been made for workers as a result of taking a little bit of extra time for hospitals and for state and local governments who are going to benefit mightily because of the work that we’ve done,” Bennet said Monday on the Senate floor.
After intense debate, Senate Democrats added key changes to the funding allocation of the $2 trillion in federal spending to combat the impact of the coronavirus, including four months of unemployment insurance for those who lost their jobs or lost hours because of the shutdown, including gig economy workers like Uber drivers; $55 billion more for hospitals; $150 billion directed to state, tribal and local relief; and ensuring there are no immediate executive bonuses or stock buybacks for companies that receive the loans.
The bill also includes $367 billion for a small business forgiveness loan program and a one-time check of $1,200 for Americans who make up to $75,000 per year, with an additional $500 for each child.
But the Senate still needs to vote on the bill, which will then be passed to the House. The agreement is a positive step forward on legislation that Congress is under pressure to pass within the next day or two.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who finished a self-quarantine period Wednesday morning, said he supported the original version of the bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but announced on Twitter this morning that he is ready to vote in support of the bill as “it has already taken too long to pass this urgently needed relief for the American people.”
“Let’s get this done to show American families, workers and small businesses that we will get through this crisis together,” Gardner wrote in a statement.
Emily Hayes is a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.